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Puppy mill sales ban discussion continues

Friday, May 23, 2014
Chicago Tribune
by Lauren Zumbach

Orland Park trustees put a decision on prohibiting the sale of pets from commercial breeders on hold, saying they want additional time to consider their options.

"I don't see any point in rushing this because we want to get it right," Trustee Pat Gira said during a recent Public Safety Committee meeting.

Orland Park began considering the issue after the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board of Commissioners banned the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from large-scale breeders earlier this year in an attempt to keep pet stores from selling animals raised in puppy mills.

Since Orland Park is a home rule municipality, it would have the option of accepting Cook County's ordinance, overturning it or crafting a local version of the ban. The Cook County ordinance requires suburban pet stores sell animals from government shelters, rescue agencies and human societies or federally licensed breeders with fewer than five reproducing female animals.

At the May 19 meeting, activists and area pet owners again urged the three committee members to support a ban on sales from commercial breeders, citing inhumane conditions in puppy mills that can give pets lasting health problems.

Failing to follow Chicago's lead would be "a disgrace to this town," said Catherine Papadakis, of Orland Park.

While a majority spoke in support of stricter regulations for pet shops, Debbie Boronda, a customer of the only Orland Park business that would be affected by any new rules said the shop, Happiness is Pets, is "a victim of a broken system that allows puppy mills," arguing a ban on sales wouldn't address the root of the problem, the mills themselves.

Trustee Dan Calandriello acknowledged that some issues are beyond Orland Park's control but he still supports a ban.

"Just because we're not the best people to address it, we shouldn't ignore it," he said.

He said the village should either let the Cook County ordinance take effect or write a local version. Other trustees, including the two remaining Public Safety Committee members, said they favor writing an ordinance based on Cook County's, but with a few alterations. Calandriello and Gira emphasized strengthening disclosure requirements to make it easier for potential customers to determine whether a pet store works with puppy mills.

An Orland Park-specific ordinance would also give the village authority to enforce whatever restrictions it decides on, Calandriello said.

However, code enforcement officers would need additional resources to handle new enforcement duties, village staff said in documents provided to trustees. While a code enforcement officer could inspect pet stores and their records, the village's inspectors don't have enough training to confirm the accuracy of the information pet stores would be required to disclose, village staff said.

The village would likely need to hire an additional part-time code enforcement officer, costing about $27,000, they said, adding that a village ordinance violation might not be enough to keep pet store owners from selling commercially-bred pets.

If Orland Park accepted the Cook County ordinance, enforcement duties would fall to the county, not Orland Park, village spokesman Joe La Margo said.

Calandriello said the issue would likely come up for discussion again at the June Public Safety Committee meeting, after committee members had time to get additional input from other trustees.

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